More funds required for Myanmar cyclone response, UN agencies stress
The category 4 cyclone killed at least 45 people and affected 260,000 others when it hit the country's Rakhine state in late October. According to Government estimates, at least 20,000 houses were completely destroyed, leaving over 100,000 people homeless, and 56 per cent of schools have collapsed or been damaged. Some 17,500 acres of agricultural lands and nearly 50,000 acres of agricultural ponds were also destroyed.
Emergency relief was distributed in the period following the disaster, covering basic needs such as food, health services, and temporary shelter, according to a news release issued by the Office of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.
However, a joint assessment carried out recently by the UN and its partners revealed that, as of January, an estimated 104,000 people are still living with host families in the four worst-affected townships – Myebon, Pauktaw, Minbya and Kyaukpyu. The shelter support delivered so far has consisted primarily of tarpaulins and plastic sheeting, which are not adequate in the longer term.
It is estimated that without additional external support, nearly 60 per cent of affected houses will not be repaired or rebuilt before the next rainy season, increasing the risk of another humanitarian crisis.
Food insecurity is another major issue, given the severe damage to embankments, crops, boats and fishing gears, the news release noted. Around 60 per cent of the rice production from 2010 has been lost, and over 90 per cent of all rice fields have been damaged in Myebon alone.
Aid agencies are warning that the “significant” gap in funding threatens to hamper early and medium-term recovery activities in the affected areas. So far only $22 million of the $57 million needed for post-Cyclone Giri relief and early recovery has been provided by donors.
“Humanitarian partners operating in Myanmar have been able to reach the affected areas and are providing crucial support directly to the people, in coordination with the Myanmar authorities,” noted UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator Bishow Parajuli.
“But funding constraints mean that many communities are left vulnerable. If shelters and embankments are not rebuilt before the monsoon season and farmers are unable to plant their crops this year, the people in these townships may face a prolonged crisis,” he added.
The slowing-down of support provided after Giri echoes that of the response after Cyclone Nargis, which left some 140,000 dead and affected the lives of an estimated 2.4 million people in May 2008, the UN pointed out.
Only one-third of the approximately $690 million needed for the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan, covering up to the end of 2011, has been forthcoming, and funding for recovery activities in the Ayeyarwady Delta has nearly come to a halt.